Informed consent is a cornerstone of health care everywhere, including Louisiana. Patients have a right to know what doctors, nurses and paramedics intend to do, what effects it may have on patients’ bodies and to have the opportunity to accept or decline the treatment. The same holds true for drug trials, as pharmaceuticals can have serious safety concerns associated with them and patients with certain medical conditions may even have contraindications to the medical treatment.
However, a woman in Minnesota alleges that paramedics from a local hospital forcibly injected her with an anesthetic against her will in 2017. She recently filed a lawsuit stating that the paramedics violated her civil rights by enrolling her in a drug trial without her consent.
The lawsuit stems from an incident that allegedly happened in December of last year. A friend of the woman became concerned when she had a drinking relapse and reportedly called 911 to request a welfare check on her behalf. When first responders arrived, the woman informed them that she did not want to go to the hospital. However, first responders, including paramedics and law enforcement, allegedly told her that she had to go to the hospital, strapping her down to a gurney.
What happened next remains in dispute: the paramedics claim that she put up a violent resistance by biting, kicking and head-butting, while the woman maintains that she did not resist physically against the restraints.
According to the lawsuit, the hospital was conducting a study at the time comparing the effects of two sedative drugs, ketamine and Versed. The lawsuit goes on to say that the paramedics then elected to enroll the patient in the ketamine trial despite the patient’s request not to receive the injection when she saw them preparing the hypodermic syringe, but her protests allegedly fell on deaf ears as the paramedics injected her anyway.
Administering pharmaceuticals against a patient’s wishes represents a serious breach of medical ethics in all but the most extreme circumstances. Those who have experienced a violation of their rights by a health care provider may wish to consult an attorney about medical malpractice.